Earlier yesterday at New York Jets practice in Florham Park, N.J., the New York Jets received a visit from Eric LeGrand, the Rutgers defensive lineman who suffered a severe spinal injury just over 10 months ago in a game against Army. He was invited by his former Rutgers teammate and Jets linebacker, Jamaal Westerman. Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com was there for the story.
Eric watched the practice from the sideline in his motorized wheel chair but after practice had concluded he was asked to come to the middle of the field. At that time, Westerman presented LeGrand a green Jets jersey with his number, 52, and his name already sewn on the back. He became a New York Jet for a day and likely for life because of the tremendous support of the Jets players.
"It's unfortunate I got here, but also fortunate at the same time," LeGrand said, "being able to inspire a bunch of people like I've been able to do. It's truly a blessing and very humbling."
As many Jets fans remember in November, 1992, Dennis Byrd went down in a collision with teammate Scott Mersereau in a game against the KC Chiefs. He had broken the C-5 vertebra in his neck and was paralyzed from the neck down. He went through a grueling recovery over the course of the next year but was able to walk out with his teammates at the Jets 1993 home opener. Byrd also proved inspirational this past January as he talked to the Jets players the night before there playoff victory over the New England Patriots.
LeGrand has been making progress in his recovery and still continues to believe he will walk again one day soon. Back in January he regained sensation throughout his body, while last month he was able to stand upright as well as move his arms. Bart Scott will soon be making a donation to the Eric LeGrand Patriot Saint Foundation based upon a portion of the proceeds raised from the sale of his "Can't Wait!" t-shirts. The donation will go a long way to helping LeGrand and others suffering spinal injuries to get the help they need to recover.
"He's been so strong through the process and life deals with certain things, and it's all about how we choose to deal with it," Scott said. "I think that he's embraced it and he took the challenge on. I think he should be an inspiration to a lot of people."
Scott has seen the difficulties of paralysis first hand, as his cousin was paralyzed as the result of a shooting four years ago. We applaud Scott for his generosity, and wish LeGrand the best in his road to recovery.
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